Hand Tool Headlines

The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator

This is a collection of all the different blogs I (try to) read.  A whole bunch!  If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to use the CONTACT page to get a hold of me.  Thanks!



Tool Cabinet Dovetails

orepass: Woodworking to Pass the Time - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 5:43pm

Haven’t chopped dovetails for a while, certainly is nice to empty my mind grab a chisel in one hand and a hammer in the other and work away.


A couple of thoughts recent dovetails have been in Sapele and Oak, Cherry takes a slightly different touch. It’s a fun challenge and as I move from joint to joint the accuracy improves.

DSC_0035 DSC_0039


Categories: Hand Tools

New SketchUp for STEM Page & URL

Bob Lang's ReadWatchDo - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 9:54am
Since the first post on this site in August, 2011 I’ve written about woodworking, the American Arts & Crafts period and SketchUp. My interest in SketchUp began with my own use and that led to teaching other woodworkers how to … Continue reading
Categories: General Woodworking

How’s Your German?

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 8:17am


We’re looking to hire a couple people, preferably woodworkers, to helps us translate a handful of short documents in German. A couple of the documents are from the early 20th century. One is from the 16th century.

We are happy to compensate you for your time – we pay fairly for good work.

This translation project is the first step for my next book, so we’d have to swear you to secrecy until we are ready to discuss the project publicly. All I can say at this point is that this next book is going to be unlike anything in the Lost Art Press catalog.

If you are interested, send an email to help@lostartpress.com with a short paragraph about your language and craft skills. And we’ll take it from there.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

One Implication of Hide Glue “Gram Weight Strength”

The Barn on White Run - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 4:42am

So there I was, mixing up a new batch of traditional gesso to use as the ground (primer) on some japanning samples I was preparing for an upcoming video shoot at Popular Woodworking.  The first step is always the soaking of the glue in order to cook it twice before adding the calcium carbonate (a/k/a whiting or pulverized chalk) to the mix to create the ground.


I was using 444 gram weight strength (gws) glue for the mix because I could not put my hands on my jar of 512 gws granules.  My working process has always been to put dry gue granules into the bottom of a jar filling approximately 1/10th of the height, then adding water to let it hydrate in preparation for the cooking.  I usually let this sit overnight.


As always, within minutes the glue began to swell as it adsorbed water into the dry protein coils, and expand until it was fully hydrated after a few hours.  This visual reminder in turn caused me to reflect on an important truth about hide glue and how we use it.

Now, the relative tensile strength of glue is a fairly linear function of its gram strength fraction, so logic would lead us to conclude that the highest number of glue fraction would yield the highest bond strength.  (Tensile strength, the ability for a material to resist being pulled apart, and shear strength, the ability of a glue line to keep two adherends together while they are being puled apart parallel to the glue line, are fundamental factors in glue performance.)

Higher gram weight strength glues result in the best performance, right?  After all they have the higher tensile and shear strength.

Not so fast!

The water uptake for total hydration is also a linear function and I could show you the data I derived in my testing, but my lab notebook for glues and their manipulation is somewhere in the remaining boxes of books awaiting unpacking.  But the point is this: the higher the number of the glue grade/fraction, the more water is required for complete hydration.  Coincidentally, my testing confirmed that the viscosity of all grades is the same at total hydration, but the amount of water uptake for total hydration can vary dramatically as the longer protein chains of the higher grades need a lot more water.

In other words a low number glue and a high number glue can have the same hydration ad viscosity despite the fact that the solids content percentage for the higher number is only a fraction of the solids content percentage of the lower grade.

What does this mean?  Well, for on thing the higher glue grades require a lot more water to achieve the same working properties of the lower grades (there are many other considerations, but this is an important one).  And, all the water that goes into the hide glue system has to come out in order for the glue to achieve its maximum performance.

Seriously, what does this mean?

What it means is that the “stronger” higher gram strength glue may not yield the strongest glue line.  Since a higher glue grade has to take on more water to be used, it will in turn lose that water in curing, and that water loss is accompanied by shrinkage of the glue mass, or, more likely, the in-building of internal stresses (sometimes breathtakingly huge) into a glue line, setting the stage for glue line fracture and eventual failure in the future.

I used to use 315 gws glue a lot, sometimes even 379 gws.  However after some simple testing my strategy has changed pretty dramatically such that I now use 192 gws glue (or even lower) for most of my routine joinery applications and leave the higher gram weight strength glue for other applications.

How to Tune and Use a Moving Fillister Plane

Wood and Shop - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 3:00am

In the above video, handplane expert Bill Anderson shows how to tune and use an antique wooden moving fillister plane. He shows how to cut cross-grain rabbets and long grain rabbets, the most used joints with a moving fillister hand plane (rebate joints for our British friends).


This full tutorial video is a free excerpt from my 2-disc DVD “Choosing, Refurbishing, & Using Joinery Handplanes with Bill Anderson” (buy it here).



You can find antique and new moving fillister planes at these places:


Click here to subscribe to my future videos and articles on traditional woodworking!


failed the bounce test......

Accidental Woodworker - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 12:05am
I slipped three times today on the white crap that got dumped on us and I did the bounce test twice and failed both of them. I also fell both times on my right hip which several hours later is now singing songs to me. FYI - old fat guys who slip and fall on snow don't bounce back up like a rubber ball. They lay there and then get up real slow. I thought I could just shake it off and carry on but not today.

I tried to do some work in the shop but I had to quit before getting up any steam. I had shoveled the front walk when I got home and maybe I shouldn't have done that(where was hindsight before the act?). Now along with my hip singing songs, my back is trying to sing back up harmony. The snow I shoveled was the heavy wet crap.

weight test
This is what I came up with to test the bottle box. I think the epoxy will hold for this but I want to get a warm and fuzzy about it first. I think this weighs about what four Starbucks bottles would weigh or even maybe a bit more. I'll leave this in the vise overnight and hopefully it'll still be in the vise when I get home from OT tomorrow.

cup and hump gone
The shavings on the bench are all it took to flatten both sides of this. I got the same amount when I did the other one. This mahogany, next to cherry, is one sweet wood to plane. Even going against the grain isn't that bad to do.

started the mortising
The ends of the mortise aren't a concern to me as much as the two long sides are. Those will be covered by ends of the top and bottom and won't be seen. On the long edges I want a snug fit because they will be seen. I want the meeting of the mortise wall and the tenon to be almost seamless.

I tried out the wooden mallet and I didn't feel any appreciable difference in it compared to my usual mallet for chopping mortises. This mortise isn't complete yet and I still haven't chopped any real meat out, but I did like the big face of the mallet. I didn't have to look at the end of the chisel when I struck it with the mallet. This may become my mortising mallet.

I stopped the mortise work because it was hurting me to stand and do this. Since I never sit in the shop to work, it was time to shut the lights off and go upstairs.

new toy
I just got this today and I had to try it out before the lights went dark. It's something that I have been looking for quite a while and I finally got one from Patrick Leach. It's a no name miter template but that doesn't bother me at all.

in the dark on this
I'm not sure which way is the correct way to use this.

or use it this way?

shaved and trimmed
I sawed this miter and stuck it in the vise and trimmed it. I'm not sure that I did this right neither but the discovery is half the fun. I was able to run the chisel from the top to the bottom without any hiccups. It looks good and appears to be flush with the template.

I see light where I shouldn't

big gap at the heel
It looks like I shaved too much off the top half or I missed shaving some off the bottom half.

this worked well
I bought this when I installed that green piece of total crappola of a face vise. I don't think I ever used it then but today it worked as advertised. I matched the numbers of fingers to the thickness of the stock and tightened down. The vise jaws clamped parallel. I'll be using this again for sure.

dead nuts 45° now
Maybe this miter template is meant to be used on small moldings and window sash. (how would you clamp this to them?) Maybe shaving a shorter length 45 would work. The wave I had on this long miter face seems to suggest that to me.

This was it for me tonight and Ralphie left the shop.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What country has the lowest birth rate?
answer -  Vatican

India's first DIY Woodworking Instructor

The Indian DIY & Woodworker - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 9:52pm
Abid Ali, woodworking instructor

Abid Ali, a sprightly tennis coach in his mid-Forties, can rightfully claim to be India's first DIY woodworking instructor. An avid woodworker himself, Abid has been instrumental in getting several people interested in woodworking. His story is best told in his own words:

What prompted you to become a DIY woodworking instructor?

 I belong to a farming family and always saw my father and my uncles doing a lot of DIY stuff at home and at the farm. There were always tools around to tinker with. At 14, my uncle who is in England and an engineer by profession, got me some woodworking tools as a gift - a Stanley plane, a saw, two C clamps, a hammer, measuring tape and a combination square. He taught me the basics of woodworking and that's how I got hooked.

How qualified are you in woodworking?

I have no formal education in woodworking; I don't hold any degree or diploma. What I have is years of experience doing things with wood and tools. That is what I try and share with whoever wants to learn DIY and woodworking. The only reason to get into teaching was to help newcomers enjoy and learn woodworking. This is a way to share my passion for wood and tools and building things by hand. I also wanted to dispel the common misconception that woodworking is mainly about furniture making and that there isn't much that can be built unless you have a huge workshop.

Abid's home workshop

What is your background and what do you otherwise do?

I am a tennis coach by profession and have been teaching for over 25 years. I've been married for 14 years and don't have children. I was born and brought up in Delhi and moved to Gurgaon in 2003 when we bought a house there. That is when I made a dedicated work area for myself in the back balcony.

Do you think there are enough people in India interested in DIY woodworking?

I have seen a steady rise in the number of people wanting to get into DIY, especially women. It's a small but enthusiastic group.

What is the biggest challenge faced by aspiring DIY woodworkers in India?

There is a lot of interest in DIY and woodworking but the biggest challenge the DIY group faces is that they don't know how to get started and where to get tools and materials. They don't know if there are any classes for woodworking, what projects to take up to improve skills, etc.

Abid's students

What kind of instructions and help do you provide your students?

I mostly teach private classes, but am not against group sessions either. However, I believe that ultimately you have to set up a work area or workshop somewhere in your house if you are going to pursue the hobby, so I help my students to identify and setup their work area. I also help them with tool procurement.

I start my class with an assessment of their level of knowledge of woodworking; then move to safety aspects; tool introduction and care; give them information on what kind of man made materials (plywood, MDF, particle board etc) are available; how solid wood is milled, seasoned and stored; how to calculate, select and buy solid wood, how to prepare a cut list; and the different characteristics of wood (soft wood, hardwood) species available in India.

Pencil box: typical student project

My instructions are centred on hand tools, so I introduce different marking and measuring aids, different cutting aids like saws, drilling techniques, use of chisels, hammering technique, how to use different pliers and screwdrivers. I then move to joinery; identifying different joints; different methods used to fasten wood (nails, screws, dowels, glue, specialty fasteners); clamping techniques and different types of clamps and their uses. I also cover assembly (glue curing time strength, keeping work at 90 degrees while assembly etc) and introduce a few power tools like drill, jigsaw, circular saw, router, planner and sander.  My approach to the class is not very rigid. Sometimes I don't mind starting with a project that a student has in mind if it is within their skill level.

Who are attracted by DITY woodworking?

My students come from varied backgrounds. For example, Payal is a lawyer who wanted to try her hand at woodworking and DIY. She's very innovative and creative, having made a number of projects with just a handful of tools. Sanjive is an architect who has always been fascinated with wood. He likes to work on complex projects and takes his time with them, instead of working to a deadline. Sudhir is a retired CEO who pursued his passion for working along with his career. He collected a lot of tools during his travels abroad. He enjoys sharing his work by making gift items for friends, loves to work by dead line, and is a real perfectionist. He is mostly learning how to use hand tools from me. Most of my students came in touch with me through Swheta who has conducted summer workshops for children at Epicentre, Gurgaon. When I teach, it feels like I am helping a friend - it's a great feeling to see someone start their DIY or woodworking journey.

Bench hook: first project for beginners

Could you briefly tell us about three projects beginning woodworkers could take up?

The three projects that I like are a Bench hook, because it's simple to make but involves good measuring and marking techniques and is a very handy sawing aid; a Tray, as it will involve mixing mediums - solid wood with ply or MDF and is a good utility or gift item; and lastly a small box, as all cabinet work is ultimately box making. It gives a very good idea of joinery, assembly, hardware fitting, accurate cutting, finishing etc.

Indranil Banerjie
6 February 2016

Categories: Hand Tools

Dishwasher Install Followup

Greg Merritt - By My Own Hands - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 7:14pm

In my last post I told you about my dishwasher install project.  The process involved shifting the entire face frame, and associated drawers and doors, 6″ to close up a gap at the side of the dishwasher.  This of course left me with a subsequent 6″ gap where the cabinets met the adjoining wall.

Milling up a piece of stock to fill the gap was a simple enough process.  Measure, cut, plane and scribe to fit against the wall (nothing is ever truly plumb in a house).  I then nailed it into place and filled the nail holes with a little wood putty.  With the easy part done, I was faced the more daunting problem of matching the existing finish on my forty-plus year old cabinets.


Every bit of woodwork in my house is finished exactly the same as these cabinets.  All the trim and every door, as well as the bathroom vanity, which is built in place just like the kitchen cabinets.  So I knew it would be in my best interest to figure out how to match both the color and the sheen.

If you have been here before, you know that I generally eschew from using any toxic finish medium.  My favorite finish to use is Tried & True Original oil finish.  Which is a blend of linseed oil and bees wax.  The MSDS literally states that consuming large quantities may cause nausea.  Can’t get much safer than that unless you don’t use anything.  The point is that any finishing medium outside of shellac, wax and oil is outside of my wheelhouse.  So I had a little studying to do.

My best guess as to the original finish used on the woodwork in my house is that it was a true varnish.  I came to this conclusion based on the sheen and how durable it has been over the years.  Plus its resistance to water and alcohol.  The original finish used also may or may not have contained added pigment or an underlying stain.  Everything was/is just a guess.  The bottom line is that I needed a finish that had an amber tone, high gloss and would hold up to water and wear.  Oh, and match a color that was decades old.  How  hard could that be?

After hours of research and reading I found myself no closer to a solution than when I started.  I basically resigned myself to the old standby, trial and error.  My frustration led me to the finish aisle in Lowes on my lunch hour Tuesday.  After looking at the offerings I decided to start my experimentation with a can of oil based Minwax Polyshades Pecan.  I also had to pick up some mineral spirits for cleanup and a natural bristle brush.

It’s at this point in the story that I should be explaining how I completed a couple of test boards to verify color and familiarize myself with the product.  That’s what I should have done and what I recommend for you to do in such a case.  However, I just jumped in with both feet and applied the first coat in reckless disregard for the consequences.

The first coat went on without issue, but was a little too light in color.  I waited twenty four hours and rubbed out the first coat with steel wool and applied a second coat.  This deepened the color and brought the new closer to the old.  Another twenty four  hours passed and I rubbed out the second coat with steel wool and went for a third coat.  The final result is a finish that is quite close to the original in sheen and color.  Frankly, I got lucky.


The color of the new is a little more orange than the original finish, but it is as close a match that I could hope for.  Especially straight from a can of off-the-shelf finish. At any rate, I have found a product that works quite well for my particular needs.  Which will prove handy for the next “honey do” project, a kitchen  island.

Greg Merritt

Get Help at Lostartpress.com

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 5:41pm

LAPFinalOK, I’m trying not to sound like a stupid airbag recall letter here.

We take customer service stuff dang seriously at Lost Art Press. We try to get back to everyone in less than 24 hours unless we’re on a bender. Heck, we do everything we can so that you don’t have to ask: “Where the heck is my stuff?”

As we approach fulfilling 30,000 order in a year, we want to keep things personal, quick and easy for you (and us).

In the next few weeks you’ll start to see some highly trusted people on our site who we’ve hired to make sure you get what you need and to solve any stupid problems. So to get your questions answered quickly, here’s the drill.

  1. Do you have a problem with your order? If so, send an email to help at lostartpress.com. We all monitor that inbox around the clock and will make sure you get your pdf or will change the mailing address on your order because you don’t know your ZIP code (not judging!).
  2. Do you have a woodworking question related to our books? Please post it in the forum. You can access it through our site here or directly through the forum’s host here. John and I are on this site every day. If we can’t answer your question, someone else will. The forum is not some ploy to sell ads to pay for our massive underwater server farm. We don’t have sponsors. We don’t have affiliates. We think that stuff is garbage. The forum is there for a free exchange of ideas. It costs us a lot of money every month to maintain. Use it. Or don’t.

And, of course, there is this creaky old blog that you can use to hurl invective or offer advice on ceiling fans.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Discussion Forum, Forum, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Advice on Workshop Walls

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 3:02pm


I’ve set up several workshops from scratch, and I’ve studied a lot of modern shops and how they are put together.

If you get to frame your own walls, I recommend a couple easy modifications that can make life easier. First, when framing, add blocking throughout so you can hang heavy cabinets with ease. For the wall between the shop and the office shown above, I’ve added two layers of blocking at 71” from the floor so I can hang a nail cabinet and a second supplies cabinet on the back wall of the shop.

Also good to consider: You don’t have to use drywall/wallboard. In my current shop in Fort Mitchell, I sheathed the studs with 1/2” OSB instead of drywall. It cost a bit more, but it was worth it. Thanks to the OSB I can pretty much put a screw anywhere for light-duty hooks and pegs.

I didn’t bother to tape the seams. I just hung it and painted it.

The secondary benefit to the OSB (and not taping it) is that shop maintenance is easy. Whenever I want to add electrical circuits or change their voltage I remove the screws for the OSB panels and do any electrical and plumbing work behind. Then I rehang the OSB. You can’t easily do that with drywall.

OSB is also much stronger than drywall. I used drywall on one wall of my shop and it has gotten beat up and penetrated (accidentally, I swear) a bunch.


Today the storefront was officially christened as a workshop. John and I moved the first workbench and tool chest there so I can build the transom windows. That was a major step for my psyche.

— Christopher Schwarz


Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Side beads with a Record 405

Hackney Tools - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 2:14pm

I don’t bother too much with the smaller Record plough planes, as I have this Record 405 and it seems to work pretty well. I would recommend sourcing one if you are thinking of an older plough plane to use. The price generally hovers somewhere around 80-90UKP from dealers or eBay. Make sure you get all the bits, because sourcing tiny missing bolts, spurs and screws can make the process of buying one quite a bit more expensive.
I’ve been making a cabinet for my bathroom and wanted a bead running around the inside of the door frame. The stiles and rails of the cabinet will therefore have the bead and I’ll mitre the beads when I m&t the joints.
The trick with this plane, like any plough, is to concentrate more on the left hand, (pushing the fence against the stuff), rather than just thinking about the right hand.
Start with very light passes a the far end , keep it light, keep it very straight and don’t flex your shoulders too much. As the track cut after cut, move back, letting the next cut fall into the previous one. Move like someone who is frozen in their upper body. Once you start pulling back and pushing into the groove you’ve established, you can relax a little, but all the time concentrate on that fence, don’t let the grain push it away from the reference surface.

Record 405_3
Record 405_2
Record 405_4
Record 405_5

Categories: Hand Tools

This Sundays E Bay Offerings.

David Barron Furniture - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 10:45am

An early Spiers panel plane.

A Norris shoulder plane.

A Knew Concepts coping saw.

A Millers Falls 'Buck Rogers' plane.

A rare steel soled gunmetal plane by H Slater.

An early Mathieson smoother

An unused Entwistle A6.

A Philly planes coffin smoother in partridge wood with a Holtey blade.

A Spiers shoulder plane

And lastly a fine Spiers smoother
Categories: Hand Tools

Whatever Happened To That Line Shaft?

The English Woodworker - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 9:01am
Can’t Be Bothered To Read? Click Play: http://www.theenglishwoodworker.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Whatever-happened-to-that-line-shaft.mp3 Not a lot really. Like the dog it just sits there. My last post was all about ridding my workshop of machines, which strums up questions about why we rescued that line shaft machinery a few years ago. Where is it and what will we be doing... Read more →
Categories: Hand Tools

Class Review: Sharpening For Turners With Hal Simmons

Highland Woodworking - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 8:22am

sharpeningThe Wednesday evening is cool and clear as I walk toward my favorite shop in the world. I make my way up the stairs, pausing as usual to admire some of the framed craftsmen photographs, excited to add a new skill to my bag. I’m on my way to take a Highland Woodworking workshop, the first I’ve ever attended. It will prove to be an informative evening of expert instruction, hands-on practice, one-on-one feedback, and very sharp tools.

I enter the workshop, a part of the store most customers never see, and am pleased to find workbenches, toolboxes, lathes and whetstones all ready for use. A short older man in glasses and work smock was busy laying out the items of the evening: turning tools, waivers, sharpening stones, and grinding gear. This is Hal Simmons, our instructor. Hal’s been turning for 19 years and has studied with many accomplished artists of the trade. As a member of the Georgia Association of Woodturners and a veteran HWW instructor, he’s an enthusiast through and through.

Hal’s energy and expertise radiates as we start the class with introductions. I am one of five participants – the youngest by at least 20 years. I am also the only one in the room who’s never used a lathe. Thankfully, Hal’s questions regarding our individual experience, equipment, comfort levels, and goals for the evening set the stage for an intimate, personalized session. After a brief safety talk we are ready to Turning, for my beginners out there, utilizes four basic cutting tools: the scraper, gouge, parting tool, and skew. For reasons of leverage and control, lathe tools have long, thick handles sporting straight steel bars ending in one of these blade styles. We begin with the scraper blade, arguably the least complicated to sharpen. Hal gives a thorough, straightforward demonstration addressing common mistakes and proper technique, as well as a wealth of expert tips from his years of experience. Some key points to remember are:

  • Always make sure your grinding wheel has a flat, clean surface before sharpening.
  • Keep both hands on the tool at all times.
  • Heat is the biggest enemy when sharpening: using a coarse-grit wheel (60 grit) makes quick work of removing metal, reducing your risk of overheating.
  • Use the ink of a marker on the surface that you’re grinding to ensure you’re taking metal away where you want to.
  • Don’t worry if there is a slight bur on your edge, this will be removed when the blade meets spinning wood.

We’re then put to the test, practicing on the provided tools. There is, of course, a lathe on hand, and we test our new edges immediately. Hal points out minor variations in cuts and angles that indicate the veracity of the grind. No one moves on until they have achieved the proper edge.

We spend the evening working our way through the remaining blade styles, each participant becoming more and more confident in his form and technique. It is encouraging to see these men, some of whom had been turning for years and never sharpened their tools, finally gain this confidence and understanding. What had begun as a few shy questions quickly turns into a no-holds-barred barrage of specific questions met with abundant feedback. How pleasing to be part of an excited bunch of wood workers nerding-out about tools with the expert!

Hal keeps us going with patient efficiency right up until 8:30, concluding with a short recap. He sends us off with his contact information, encouraging further correspondence and safe turning. I leave with a vastly enhanced understanding of lathe work in general and the confidence to take care of my future tools. I look forward to taking more classes here; what a valuable resource for the in-town woodworker!

The post Class Review: Sharpening For Turners With Hal Simmons appeared first on Woodworking Blog.

Categories: General Woodworking

Excellent Book, Nice Resume’ Enhancer

The Barn on White Run - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 6:28am

I got a package from FedEx today with an Ottawa, Ontario return address.  Had I ordered something from Lee Valley and forgotten about it?  That potential is not outside the realm of possibility.


Instead of a hand tool, it was a brain tool.  In fact, it was a really good book that had been in the works for a decade or longer.  It was published by the Canadian Conservation Institute, a renowned research and preservation treatment entity within the Canadian government, and edited by my friend and colleague Jane Down (who may be the best adhesives researcher on planet).  It will be a tremendously useful resource for anyone interested in the subject of adhesives and their use for a wider range of artifact types.  I expect to use it with some regularity.


The Table of Contents reveals the breadth and depth of the concepts, materials and practices covered.  Were I still interested in such things, being invited to contribute would be a very nice resume’ enhancer, but at this point in my life I am just trying to live out my friend Mike’s dream to “do interesting projects with good people in great places.”  Of course, for me that “great place” is The Barn.


Why Four?

The Furniture Record - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 6:03am

I was recently asked if I was trying to corner the market for Thomas Day game tables? Why did I need four Thomas Day game tables? Obvious answers: too much time and money, no impulse control.

While true, it is not the whole truth.

Thomas Day was/is a compelling person. He was a third generation free man of color and the largest furniture maker in pre-Civil War North Carolina. And a slave owner. You can read an NPR article about him HERE.

I saw an alleged Thomas Day game table on eBay and watched the auction. Reasonably priced but shipping was high and I had no way of knowing if it actually was as claimed. Auction ended with no sale. I watched it on its next listing. And again on its third. I took time to read the listing and realized the table was located within five miles of my house.

I contacted the seller to see if the table was going to be offered again. He responded that he was done with eBay but there was a woman from South Carolina coming to take look at it. He said I was free to come look at it if I wanted. I wanted and scheduled a visit inviting my friend, Jerome Bias, to come view it with me.

We came, we saw, we were skeptical. The seller was quite insistent and knew all the right people in the collector community. We talked and turned the table every which way to look for evidence either way. In the end, Jerome’s skepticism lost to my desire to own. A price was negotiated and the table followed me home. The lady from South Carolina, if she existed, never made an appearance.

A few weeks later, I took the table to Martin O’Brien, a highly respected conservator of furniture in Winston-Salem. We stared and talked for a while. His belief is that there is very good chance it is a Thomas Day piece. Or he said that hoping that he could make this fairly large odd person go away.

I found the second table in Hudson, NC. I took lots of pictures and compared it to the first. There were more similarities than differences. I thought about it for a few weeks but finally gave in to the paranoia that it might be bought by someone who didn’t realize what it might be. I drove back to Hudson and acquired it. The dealer was having a sale. I paid substantially less for this one than the first. The first wasn’t that expensive to begin with.

Jerome told me about the third one at a Greensboro antiques mall. I picked it up while driving back from Martin O’Brien’s shop. I was there to allow him to examine the second table. We decided the second was likely a Day piece. The mall gave me 15% off for paying cash for the third. I paid less for the third one than the second.

The fourth one was at a large antiques mall in Burlington. Again, many of the same features as the first three. The dealer had marked it down so, once again, I paid less than for the third.

I own these four with the intent of offering them up for study. I would like to work with a group or museum to offer the chance to study them with other known pieces of Day furniture. See the evolution of design and construction, techniques and materials. A chance to learn more about early 19th century furniture.

Eventually, I want to find a home for the tables. Give others a chance to see and study them. They need to go. Eventually. We have a large house but it’s not infinitely large. I have no intention of becoming a Thomas Day hoarder.

One thing I have learned is that Mr. Day’s method of foot attachment is subject to failure. He makes a load bearing joint from an end-grain to end-grain glue joint reinforced with a single dowel.

Yellow glue works best when it is thick enough to measure. With a yardstick.

A repaired joint. Just not well repaired.

This failure is seen on most of the tables:

Imminent failure.

Imminent failure.

Hanging in there by a dowel.

Hanging in there by a dowel.

On the other hand, the tables have survived for over 150 years. How long should a joint last to be considered a success?

Big Sycamore Will Make Big Slabs

Wunder Woods - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 5:29am

Recently, I salvaged a huge sycamore log that I plan to cut into natural-edge slab table tops. In the video below I show how I got the log from a warehouse construction site. After this, it will sit for a year or so to give the sapwood some time to spalt (begin to decay), which will add a lot of visual interest to this giant. Now it is time to cut some logs from last year (or the year before).

Categories: General Woodworking

If you knew sushi: Japan in global quality crackdown

Giant Cypress - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 3:38am
If you knew sushi: Japan in global quality crackdown:

Kalyeena Makortoff:

A growing number of sushi purists are up in arms at what they see as substandard food preparation and service in a growing number of restaurants outside Japan, the Kyodo news agency reports.

There are complaints that sushi in Moscow, for example, may be served with mayonnaise while in Paris, plates are slammed down, disturbing the arrangement.

Goddamn French.

from 56°F to snow......

Accidental Woodworker - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 12:36am
I knew something was going to happen but I didn't know when or what. This morning when I went to work the temperature was 56°F. It's the coldest month of winter and we have spring time temps at 0430. This weird stuff lends itself to other weird stuff.  And one weird thing happens tomorrow morning.

It's supposed to start raining at midnight and change over to a heavy snowfall just in time for the morning commute. I'm lucky there in that I'll already be at work for a couple of hours so I'll miss all that fun.

But weird always comes in twos for me and the second one is my wife stayed home from work today (she hardly ever does that). She had all the flu symptoms so she stayed home. When I get a cold I have never passed it on to her. When she gets a cold, within 3-4 days she'll have infected me. Getting a cold is a PITA and I don't mind them except for coughing. With my metal hip when I cough the pressure builds up in my chest and it goes right to the hip. The cough causes it to vibrate or something and it hurts like I'll rip your face off type pain. My hip didn't hurt anywhere near like this when I had the surgery like it did when I coughed. Enough of the weird on to the fun.

I had a quick and eclectic time in the shop tonight. I got no woodworking done but I got a few woodworking related items done. The first one was helping out Dave who has a vise like mine but his is toast. The screw on his vise is doing screwy things. (I couldn't resist that one). He sent me  pics and after I compared them to my two vises, I think he has a garter type problem.

Dave is lucky because he lives 30 minutes from a Lee Valley store. If he can't find and fix the problem he'll be making that journey on saturday. I think if I lived within a days  drive of a Lee Valley store, I would be penniless. My wife wants to go to Nova Scotia in june/july to look up dead relatives and while she is doing that I'll be standing outside the Lee Valley store waiting for it to open. So I may still get my wish to come true and be penniless.

I've gotten a quite a few comments on the post I did on the LN honing guide and LV rabbet plane iron. I learned a lot from the comments and I did some proofing on that tonight.

Lee Valley right hand skewed rabbet plane
This is how I know what a RH hand skewed rabbet plane iron looks like. Without this you could hold a gun to my head and I couldn't tell you a RH from a LH. There aren't any rules to follow with this and it seems each tool maker has their own way of doing it.

 the angle on the mouth
This measurement I made here isn't very precise but looks to be about 30°. On this I'm not sure what the reference point is. Should it be the toe or the heel or from the left or right side of the plane? I'm saying the skew on the mouth is 30° and you pick the reference.

double check is 30°
 I checked the plane skew with my bevel gauge and it matches what I read directly. Both say about 30°.

skew on the iron
Again, not a dead nuts precise measurement.  I'm calling it 22° on an iron that I've had for over 4 years and has been sharpened several times. The last one was rather severe because I had to establish the point on the right hand side of the iron again.

this surprised me
The bevel angle on the blade is 30°. I expected this to be off either up or down from 30 and not dead nuts. It looks I did the hand sharpening of this iron pretty good.

the bed angle is off
The bed angle is 45° in the Lee Valley literature. Here the angle is off and it is less than 45. I don't think that this being off makes any difference to the plane iron. I know from experience in using this plane that it means diddly squat in making rabbets.

grizzly sanding drums
These took 7 days to come from Philly Pa up to RI. I ordered two of them from two different model sanders that Grizzly sells. The one on the left is a 1/8" longer than the one on the right. The right one is a slip fit on the machine spindle. The left one fits a bit more snugly. Unfortunately, I forgot to buy a sanding sleeve so I could try them out. I'll be correcting that next payday.

The last thing I did in the shop tonight was to sand down the bottle box. It was smooth to the touch and all the previous roughness was gone. It still looks kind of shiny and I'm calling it done. I won't be waxing it neither.

I drilled out the holes for the handle a 64th greater. I put epoxy in the holes and on the handle ends and stuck it in the holes. Before I put any bottles in this I'll be doing a load test on it. Tomorrow after the epoxy has set, I'll weigh the box down and get a feel for it.. I don't want this handle letting loose when Billy brings it home.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
What was the annual average income for the United States at the start of WWII?
answer - a $1070 (today it's about $50,000.00)


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